Listen Live

By Abdul-Hakim Shabazz & Andrew Weissert

A survey conducted by Indy Politics and ARW Strategies of registered voters in Marion County between August 13th and 23rd shows crime and public safety in Indianapolis are a major concern for voters and the race for County Prosecutor next year is a total toss-up, despite voters generally giving Ryan Mears positive reviews.

Key findings include:

Crime and public safety are front-and-center in voter’s minds.  When asked which of the following issues is most important for the City-County Council to focus on, 43% of voters chose combatting crime.  Fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and improving public health was a distant second choice with 17%, followed by tackling racial injustice and fighting for social equality at 14%.

Unsurprisingly, if you believe the city has gotten off on the wrong track, 56% of those voters chose combating crime as their top priority.  While crime is statistically still the top issue for a plurality of African American voters at a rounded-down 35%, a rounded-up 35% say that tackling racial injustice is their top priority for the City-County Council.

Ryan Mears is new on the job, and it shows with modest name identification.  35% of voters approve of the job Ryan Mears is doing as Prosecutor of Marion County, while 20% disapprove.  A near-majority, 45%, do not have an opinion of him, however.  Large pockets of voters in the outer townships – Pike, Perry, Lawrence, Warren – have no opinion of Mears.

If you think the city has gotten off on the wrong track, Mears’ approval is underwater with just 21% approving on his job performance, while 33% disapprove. Among Democrats, he’s strongest, with 45% approving of the job he’s doing and just 12% disapproving.  He’s also positive with Republicans, with 29% approving and 24% disapproving of his job performance.  He is, however, underwater with Independents with 32% approving and 36% disapproving of how he’s doing.

Just over a year out, the County Prosecutor election is a total toss-up.  When asked whether they’d vote for Ryan Mears in next year’s Marion County Prosecutor election, just 23% said they’d vote for Mears, while 21% say they’d vote for someone else.  A massive 56% are undecided, leaving open a major lane for a viable challenger.  Among Democrats, Mears is underperforming with just 30% saying they’d vote for him, while 15% would vote for someone else, and a majority – 56% – are undecided.  Among Republicans, 22% would vote for Mears, 20% would vote for someone else, and 57% are undecided.  For Independents, just 11% would vote for Mears next year, with 32% choosing someone else, and 58% undecided.

“Given that Ryan Mears is relatively new on the job, he can be forgiven for being unknown to many voters,” said Andrew Weissert of ARW Strategies, “but with an election just next year, he needs to work extra hard, particularly because public safety is front-and-center in voters’ minds. Right now, this race looks wide open, and someone will need to own the rise in crime.  Mears will want to make sure it’s not him who voters blame.”

Voters support greater resources to mental health and social services, and oversight into the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.  Across the board, voters overwhelmingly (79%) support an increase in funding to provide mental health and other social services, while just 8% oppose such actions.

Changes to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department look to be on voter’s minds at just 33% approve of the way the department has handled the rise in crime recently, with 37% disapproving.  African American voters, in particular, disapprove of how the department has handled the increase in crime, with 50% disapproving.

Additionally, nearly two-thirds (62%) support greater civilian participation and oversight into local police policies.  However, efforts to defund the police are opposed by a majority (50%) of voters, with just 32% supporting it.

Tomorrow we examine attitudes towards schools and school choice.

Abdul-Hakim Shabazz is the editor and publisher of IndyPolitics.Org.

Andrew  Weissert is the President of ARW Strategies.


 This poll was conducted between August 13th and 23rd, 2021.  In all, 400 interviews were achieved among registered voters in Marion County, Indiana.  Two hundred of these responses came from text message surveys to cell phones, and 200 of these responses came from online surveys. The Margin of Error for this survey is +/- 4.9% at a Confidence Interval of 95%